The aluminium bodyshells for the first nine cars of Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of Intercity Express trains have landed in the UK from Hitachi’s factory in Kasado, Japan.
The trains will now be assembled at Hitachi’s facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, before entering service on the West Coast main line in 2022, replacing the current diesel-powered Super Voyagers and serving the West Midlands, North Wales and Liverpool.
Hitachi produces the aluminium bodyshells in Japan, as that is where it has its highly expensive friction-stir-welding equipment. However, the company is now investing a further £8.5 million at the Newton Aycliffe plant so that the last 56 cars of Avanti’s order will be manufactured completely, including the welding of the bodyshells, in County Durham.
The complete order is for 13 five-car Class 805 bi-mode trains and 10 seven-car Class 807 electric trains, 135 cars in total. They will replace the current diesel-powered Super Voyagers and serve the West Midlands, North Wales and Liverpool.
The bi-mode capability will allow trains to run on electric power up the West Coast main line, only switching to diesel mode when they turn off onto the North Wales line to Anglesey.
The first nine bodyshells are from Avanti’s Class 805 fleet – a full five-car set from 805001 and four from 805002.
Liam Hockings, Avanti West Coast senior project manager for new trains, said: “Our new trains are really going to make a difference and it’s very exciting
“Together with our partners Hitachi Rail and Rock Rail West Coast, we will be looking to raise the bar for our customers on the West Coast Main Line route.”
Rock Rail West Coast, a joint venture between Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard Investments, is financing the trains and will be leasing them to Avanti West Coast.